Hello to you from where and when you are stopping by. I’m finally able to sit down here and have a moment. Kyle picked me up some light auburn hair coloring and now I look a bit more like myself again. I knew better from past experiences than to go blonde but ah well. What happens with us girls, at least this girl, is when I don’t feel like I have control over things going on! When I’m feeling powerless, in a mindless versus mindful sort of way (there is a difference), I will do a couple of predictable things. I will start moving furniture, trying to organize and clean out stuff (very productive this one) and ultimately I will start fussing, then cutting and color my hair. Depending on what is going on, it can take quite an effort for me to get to a mindful state of being. It’s in those weak moments that going blonde, or in my case going orange happens!
Now for something completely different…..
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
We had another major ant siege this morning. It’s dry and hot and that’s when they make their move. They have surrounded the house and were even trying to set up shop in a window. I can’t blame them for fighting to survive these elements but damn I wish they’d go someplace besides my house to do it. I spread some Diametrious earth around the house and we fought them back from the inside with a mix of white vinegar and Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint which seemed to work. We try not to use the traditional poisons mainly for health reasons with the dogs and ourselves. Most of our neighbors use exterminator services like we used to and or spray the toxic stuff which chases the ants from their place over to ours. With ant politics that’s really all we are doing. You don’t really kill ants, you just move them from one place to another! Until the next battle!
If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.
13 9 14 4 12 5 19 19 14 5 19 19
M I N D L E S S N E S S = 152/8/4/2/1
13 9 14 4 6 21 12 13 5 19 19
M I N D F U L N E S S = 135/9 divided by 2 = 4.5 = 9 cycle
Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness
“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.” – Montaigne
We are mindful when we are in a “mental state characterized by nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment experience, including sensations, thoughts, bodily states, consciousness, and the environment, while encouraging openness, curiosity, and acceptance” (Hofmann et al., 2010, p. 169). This state of mindfulness is flexible, open to novelty, and sensitive to both context and perspective (Langer, 2005).
When we are operating in life from a mindful position, we are willing to open ourselves to all of the possibilities and nuances of our internal and external worlds. We feel willing to invite whatever thoughts and emotions may come, because we are not rigid in fear that thoughts or emotions will overwhelm us. Through this open stance, we allow ourselves to bear witness to thoughts, emotions, and external events without judgment. Paradoxically, when we allow potentially negative thoughts or feelings to simply “be,” we take away the power that they have over us. It is when we resist and deny our thoughts and feelings that they grow stronger.
A mindful stance welcomes whatever thoughts and emotions arise, examines them with curiosity and openness, and then lets them go. There is no need to hold on to the disturbing thoughts and emotions. From a mindful place, we are willing to experience them, calm in the knowledge that we are in the driver’s seat. Thoughts and emotions have no power over us when in a mindful place. When we experience fear, anger, or sadness mindfully, we take away the power of those emotions. We do not deny or invalidate them, but we see them for what they truly are: feelings.
When we choose to adopt a mindful view towards our daily experience, we release the need to evaluate every thought, feeling, or action as “good” or “bad.” Ellen Langer, author of the chapter “Well-Being” in the Handbook of Positive Psychology, notes that while “evaluation is central to the way we make sense of our world, in most cases, evaluation is mindless … A more mindful approach would entail understanding not only that there are advantages and disadvantages to anything we may consider but that each disadvantage is simultaneously an advantage from a different perspective (and vice versa). With this type of mindful approach, virtually every unpleasant aspect of our lives could change.”
Much of what we are taught in Western societies involves the idea that when bad things happen, we just need to “hold on” and wait for them to pass. Imagine the tension and fear involved in this mindset – knuckles white, breath held in, muscles tight. When we shift into a mindful stance, we can begin to view the bad things that happen in life as being context dependent. There is a deep awareness that with everything, there are both good and bad aspects, depending on our point of view.
When we are operating in a mindless way, we are choosing not to take in all available information – we select that which we pay attention to, even when it only increases fear or anger. When living in mindlessness, we go through the day reacting to internal thoughts and feelings and external events, rather than responding. Mindlessness results in unawareness – we are limiting the full range of what we can experience. There is understandable fear involved in the idea of “inviting” seemingly negative thoughts or emotions with open-minded curiosity. We are taught to reject and suppress such negativity.
Reflect on how your own experience changes when you practice mindfulness in your daily routine. The next time that an unpleasant thought or feeling arises, rather than stuffing it down and rejecting it, allow it to be. Practice sitting with discomfort. When we learn how to tolerate discomfort and distress in this way, we are providing ourselves with the chance to be freed from suffering. Our emotional suffering persists when we deny it, ignore it, or rage against it. Notice it, welcome it, observe it, and let it go.
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Hofmann, S.G., Sawyer, A.T., Witt, A.A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169-183.
Snyder, C.R. & S.J. Lopez. (2005). Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Featured image: welcome new light by AlicePopkorn / CC BY 2.0